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While the earnings season for the first quarter of this year produced block busters like Apple and disappointments like Microsoft, expect more disappointments for the second quarter of this year. The reason should not be a mystery to most market observers. In fact, there are two major reasons why the second quarter will feature more negative annual earnings, out looks and projections than the previous year.
While the US economy is showing steady signs of recovery, and there are less and less jobless Americans, the truth is that this might not be enough to keep the Wall street party going full steam ahead. Two main factors will put a lot of downward pressure on the market and earnings.
First, the strong Dollar is going to impact companies that deal directly with foreign markets. These are not just multinational companies, but service companies that have big contracts with first line players. You have to understand that the global economy has a direct impact on the US economy. Even though more than 70% of the total US economic activity is completely internal, the reason for this is that there is a multiplier effect in play. When multinational American companies employ people back home, the less people they employ, the more of an effect this would have. Also, when they buy less from some suppliers, this has a domestic impact as well.
Another key factor that might drive down the second quarter earnings is the continuing collapse in the price of oil. While we have seen periodic surges in the price of oil, none of these rallies have proved to be long lasting. There is a tremendous amount of downward pressure on oil thanks to a huge glut in supply in the United States. Also, the global demand is weaker than expected. These factors will probably not change anytime soon and this would have both direct and indirect effects on corporate earnings this earnings season.
By the time you read this, you probably already know that Twitter acquired live streaming app maker, Periscope. This is a big deal because it effectively destroyed potential live streaming competition from Meerkat. While this is big news as far as preserving twitters stock relevance is concerned, it is also significant for a much bigger reason on the consumers side.
One of the main reasons why people open a Twitter account is to read news. These people are not there to send short Tweets. They could care less about that. Instead, they look to Twitter as a 24/7, instantly accessible source of late breaking news. Whether you are looking for gossip or you are looking for the latest development regarding a hot trend, Twitter is it.
It is a giant, crowd-sourcing platform that accesses the minds of millions upon millions of people from all four corners of the globe. It is very easy to find the latest niche news and information, just by simply entering the right keywords into Twitter. Considering the fact that it is a trusted source of late breaking news, live-streaming is a powerful add-on.
While it is nice to get links of news reports, it is way much better to get a link to a live stream so you can see a news video as it plays out. This is why Twitter’s Periscope acquisition can go a long way in really skyrocketing Twitter’s revenue potential. As more and more people use Twitter to view news, and Twitter has the technology in place to deliver live-stream video and slap on ads on top of that, expect Twitter’s revenue profile to explode in the mid term.
Maybe I’m just blowing my own horn here, but I’ve written previously that one of the biggest revenue holes Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is completely ignoring is data analytics. Twitter is obviously following Facebook’s revenue strategy. It’s looking to make money off ad sales on its dashboard and news feed. It is making money off paid insertions and other standard advertising moves.
While this is all well and good, it really ignores the fundamental power of Twitter as a data tracking device. You have to understand that Twitter is a massive crowdsourced data giant sourcing all sorts of content signals and behaviors from all four corners of the globe. Countless amount of messages regarding all sorts of topics are shared on Twitter. If Twitter was able to sell this data feed on an enterprise basis to companies that would then slice and dice this data and sell to advertising companies, online publishers, and other interested parties that are looking for highly targeted information to better position their advertising, Twitter could be making a lot more money than the consumer space.
I’ve already outlined why this is the case. At the risk of sounding repetitive, let me lay it out again. When you’re selling to another business, you have a higher chance of getting recurring income. Compare this with just selling ads on a retail basis based on consumer views. When you’re selling data on a wholesale basis and the right to filter that data, you can charge a lot more money.
Put all these factors together and it’s easy to see how Twitter can be a data company much like Thompson Reuters. I suspect that this should be the direction Twitter should go. Moreover, it should offer business-centered verticals like stock market-related data, business data, online marketing data to targeted companies. These companies would pay a lot more because of this finely tuned demand-driven information.
I’m not exactly a big booster of Facebook stock. I think that in many cases, the critics saying that it’s overrated may be justified.
However, there is one exciting area of Facebook’s business strategy that is worth paying attention to. As you already know, Facebook operates a closed environment. Whenever a member has to log into any kind of environment, there are all sorts of opportunities for user tracking. This is Facebook’s ace in the hole: It’s able to track all sorts of user behavior and profile the user in such a way that ads can be finely tuned and finely targeted to maximize conversion.
The biggest hurdle in converting online viewers into prospects and into buyers is of course targeting. The more targeted the commercial messaging, the higher the likelihood of conversion.
Facebook has gotten this down to a science. In fact, it has been reported that it’s been doing all sorts of psychological testing and tracking to fine-tune its advertising messages to maximize relevance. While Facebook has been caught up in all sorts of privacy-related drama because of this, it is indisputable that its main asset is its ability to finely track hundreds of millions of active daily users. It can be a tremendous advertising revenue powerhouse.
Thanks to its recent video initiatives, it has taken several steps to get closer to becoming a revenue powerhouse. While its revenues are still a fraction of Google’s revenues, if its video strategy pans out, expect a lot more money being spent on Facebook advertising.
The recent development that I’m excited about is its pre-roll ad capability. What this means is that before the video plays, people will see an ad. While YouTube already features this technology, the fact that people viewing videos are normally logged into Facebook means that the ads you will see are highly targeted. More targeted ads mean higher advertising revenues due to the anticipation higher conversions. This can be a tremendous growth opportunity for Facebook.
Another consequence of this development is that it may mean a further erosion of YouTube’s market share. That is bad news for Google.
How hot is the video advertising market? Well, according to eMarketer, ad spending on market videos will reach $7.7 billion in 2015. This is an over 33% improvement from the ads spending in 2014. Expect this growth rate to continue for quite sometime.
Sue Ann Arnall, oil executive Harold Hamm’s ex-wife, has lost an appeal in the pair’s divorce case after accepting an award of nearly $1 billion. The state Supreme Court ruled 7 to 2 in favor of a motion that was filed by Hamm in January to dismiss the appeal. Hamm is the CEO of Continental Resources Inc., an Oklahoma-based oil company.
In the weeks before the motion was filed, Arnall cashed her ex-husband’s check for $975 million, which was the majority of what the lower court had awarded in the divorce case. Arnall also took the marital property that was awarded to her. Because of these two actions, the court ruled that Arnall forfeited her right to appeal.
Hamm appealed the lower court’s judgement in January, stating that it was excessive. Although the Oklahoma Supreme Court dismissed Arnall’s appeal, it did allow Hamm’s appeal to proceed. Two justices wrote that they viewed the decision as “fundamentally unfair”. Two other justices wrote that dismissing Arnall’s appeal because she accepted the initial $1 billion judgement was “draconian”.
Hamm was ordered to pay roughly $1 billion in cash and assets to his ex-wife last November when the couple divorced after being married for 26 years. The $975 million check that Arnall cashed represented the balance that Hamm owed to her, according to the court.
Arnall stated that the previous ruling allowed her ex-husband to keep the majority of the couple’s marital estate, which may be worth up to $18 billion. Arnall was seeking billions more in her appeal.
One of Hamm’s lawyers stated that he had not read the court’s opinion yet, so was unable to issue a statement on the matter.
The couple’s divorce case began in 2012 and finally concluded last November after a 2 1/2 month trial. The court’s judgement was the largest ever in a U.S. divorce case.
China is the world’s largest consumer of iron ore. Thanks to its ever hungry and unquenchable manufacturing sector, China has forged tons of relationships with iron ore producers the world over. In fact, China is not just doing this for iron ore. It’s doing this for a wide range of metal commodities. In fact, a lot of the heavy development in the continent of Africa is due to Chinese multinational companies setting down roots and expanding their supply chain.
While this is all well and good when the global economy is growing and heating up, this spells disaster for local iron ore players when the Chinese economy is slowing down. While the Chinese GDP is still growing, it’s not growing as robustly as before. Due to this economic softness, there is a tremendous amount of domestic pressure for the Chinese government to make it more favorable for local iron ore miners.
The main way to do this of course is through tax treatment. The more extreme and more expensive way of course is to offer subsidies. We’re not at the subsidy stage yet.
However, the friendly tax treatment of local Chinese ore miners is a red flag for the stock of Australian iron ore companies. Australia is one of the world’s largest exporters of iron ore. If these local Chinese tax moves truly pan out, this can’t help but be bad news for Australian players. In fact, there are already a lot of bidding actions for Chinese iron ore demand. Expect this to increase with the added pressure of preference for local iron ore producers.
If you’re looking to potentially short stocks, you might want to take a look at iron ore producers based in Australia. A few of these have already been under a lot of downward pressure due to the decline in commodities recently. Expect the downward pressure to continue indefinitely.
Divorce rates among seniors are on the rise. According to Time, 1 in 4 people that are getting divorced in the United States is over 50. Statistics also show that 10 percent of all divorces are occurring to those that are over 64 years old. Seniors are seeing a rising divorce rate, while younger couples have the lowest rates in 30 years.
Long-term couples will almost always have to pay alimony. Younger couples often pay temporary alimony, but seniors that have spent years with their spouse will likely pay alimony for life. In New York, courts often grant alimony for life. Seniors that are still working and going through a divorce must plan for alimony payments.
Matters get worse in terms of retirement funds. In families where only one spouse has saved for retirement, having retirement funds cut in half can be devastating. Older generations often had one spouse that worked while the other took care of the kids. Even in an at-fault divorce, retirement funds is viewed as an asset that will need to be divided evenly among both spouses.
The rise in divorce rates also leaves seniors in a tough position when it comes to splitting their biggest asset: the home. Attorneys state that if a spouse receives the house as part of the divorce proceedings, they will be expected to forfeit another asset or several assets to balance the division of property. According to a local divorce attorney, couples can also choose to sell the home and split the proceeds equally, which may be the best case for older divorcees with little savings.
As seniors begin to divorce at higher rates, it’s important to consider prenuptial agreements prior to remarrying. Statistics show that people on the second or third marriage are far more likely to divorce again. Prenuptial agreements will ensure a person’s retirement and savings is withheld from a divorce if it occurs in the future.
You don’t want to avoid losing money on the stock market. You really can’t allow yourself to get caught up in the hype or investment frenzy of IPO stocks. There is a common misconception that one of the most effective ways to make money off stocks is to buy an IPO. The people championing this idea often bring up the case of Twitter and Facebook.
Well, the truth is when you look at the actual stock performance of those two companies, they didn’t do all that well after the IPO. It’s only after they have proven themselves according to various metrics that their stocks not only recovered but also beat expectations.
This might not be the case for potential IPO, E-House. This is a Chinese company in New York that deals with real estate. It’s going to be a hard sell. You have to understand that E-House is an industry in China that is overheated. The Chinese economy is softening and there are a lot of housing units going unsold. Moreover, there are a lot of housing units under development and this is going to put tremendous pressure on existing inventory. This is not exactly the right time to be in real estate.
If you are looking to swoop in on the IPO plan for Jupai, you have to keep in mind that it all depends on its positioning. If it operates as an asset manager, then this might be a decent IPO play. Why? China’s real estate is going through a downturn right now. That is unmistakable. The question is: How can businesses make money off this downturn? One key way is asset management. Instead of focusing on massive inventory and playing the real estate game that way, focus instead on asset management.
If this pans out, then this might a sleeper stock. Of course, there are a lot of other factors that need to be lined up properly for this to pan out. Still, if you’re looking for an IPO play, pay attention to E-House.
A 56-year old woman by the name of Betty Coleman has been charged with spending all of her granddaughter’s inheritance. The grandmother was appointed by a judge to look over the girl’s well-being and take charge of the girl’s finances.
The money was left to the girl, under the age of 14 at the time, by Ms. Coleman’s deceased ex-husband. In total, $50,000 was left to the girl.
Charges pressed against the woman state that all of the money was spent in a span of just 5 months. Unfortunately, the money was not spent on the granddaughter, but on Ms. Coleman. Court documents state that Coleman spent the money on frivolous items, such as new wigs for herself, to pay off rent debts, and to buy alcohol and cigarettes. Much of the money was withdrawn in cash.
Coleman’s granddaughter was living in an unfurnished room and sleeping on an air mattress with another relative.
Some of the money was also spent on Coleman’s current husband, who is in jail for sexually assaulting the granddaughter years prior.
The granddaughter took Coleman to court in 2014 and won a judgement of $150,000. When Coleman was appointed guardian of the estate, she did not reveal that she had four convictions for theft and forgery under a different name. Investigations into Coleman also show that she forged bank records given to the probate court to try and hide her misuse of the estate’s funds.
Coleman was supposed to leave $20,000 in an account until her granddaughter turned 18.
According to probate attorney Brad Micklin, while the civil judgement against Coleman is hefty, receiving the funds will be nearly impossible as Coleman does not have any money.
According to Micklin, a trusted relative that was named by Coleman’s ex-husband would have been a much better choice of the girl’s finances. Unfortunately, without proper planning, even a property guardian or trustee of a trust can use the funds inappropriately.